If you want to teach yourself to swim and don’t have access to a swim coach or swimming lessons, don’t despair! The tips on this page will help you if you want to learn a new swimming stroke or improve your current swimming strokes by yourself. So let’s get started.

A smiling female swimmer resting at the pool wall

Swim Tips for the Autodidact

Tip #1: Even if a swim coach isn’t available, always practice in a safe environment. This often means practicing in a supervised swimming pool. Practicing in a pool is also less overwhelming than in open water because you can see what’s below the surface.

Tip #2: Use the swimming drills progressions in the learn how to swim section on this site. You expected this one, didn’t you? 🙂

Tip #3: Use swimming goggles. You’ll be more relaxed because you can keep the eyes open without getting water in them.

Tip #4: Decompose complex motions into their components and practice the components independently. For example, practice arm motions independently from leg motions. Or practice the arm motions one side at a time.

Tip #5: Don’t hesitate to use swimming aids to support your body in the water if you isolate stroke components, even if it makes you look silly. Once you can swim a stroke the other people swimming can’t, you won’t look silly anymore.

However, make sure that the flotation devices don’t become props you cling onto even when they aren’t needed anymore. For example, the pull buoy comes to mind.

Tip #6: Use dry-land training at home to rehearse the new motions you want to learn. Don’t hesitate to lie down on the floor and execute components of a swimming technique. This is useful as you have access to learning resources at home you don’t have access to at the pool.

Tip #7: Use visualization while you rehearse the motions at home. That way you will already have memorized and know the motions to practice while you teach yourself to swim at the pool.

Tip #8: Be creative while devising exercises to practice stroke components. Again, trying out new exercises may sometimes be awkward, but it’s often a lot of swimming fun too.

Tip #9: Yes, never forget to have fun while you teach yourself to swim. If things don’t work out like you expected, laugh about yourself, then try again or try something else.

Tip #10: Learn as much as you can about swimming. Nowadays, you have access to excellent books, web sites (this one comes to mind) and even online videos of the greatest champions at your fingertips. It is really a great time to learn how to swim in today’s world.

Tip #11: If you can afford it, get a waterproof digital camera (or a waterproof case for your existing camera). Then ask a friend to shoot you while swimming. Seeing yourself swimming is a great way to become aware of your mistakes. I use a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 (superseeded by the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5/FT5) for my recordings. They are among the best waterproof cameras currently available.

Tip #12: Don’t hesitate to ask your swim buddies about particular aspects of your technique. They often see and know the mistakes you do that you aren’t aware of yourself.

Tip #13: If you can find a good swim coach, don’t hesitate to follow swimming lessons. The problem is knowing what makes a good swim coach. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about swimming so you can assess a coach’s strengths and weaknesses.


That’s it, I hope that with the swim tips I have given you on this page, you’ll be able to teach yourself to swim successfully. If you want to get started, browse our learn how to swim pages.

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